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A Brief History

The idea of the formation of a new Lodge in Witney started with a handful of Witney Masons led byW.Bro. Robert 'Bob' Stokes PPrJGW in and around 1988/89. At that time he felt that with the population of Witneyincreasing and the consequent growing waiting lists to join established Lodges and the time taken to get to the Chairof King Solomon, there was an opportunity to create a new Lodge in Witney to deal with the demand.

With the blessing of the Provincial Grand Master, a Founding Committee was set up and itsinaugural meeting took place on 31st May 1989. The Founding committee met a total of five times over the followingyear, agreeing everything from Lodge name, officers, ritual, music, meeting dates/times, banner and finances.

On Saturday 19th May 1990, 136 brethren assembled at the Provincial Masonic Centre in Oxfordat 333 Banbury Road for the Lodges' Consecration and Installation Ceremony. The Consecrating Officer was theProvincial Grand Master RW.Bro. Geoffrey Redman-Brown, assisted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master VW.Bro. DennisMerry PGSwdB and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro. John Cockin PSGD along with many of the activeProvincial officers. W.Bro. Bob Stokes became Primus Master of the newly formed Witta's Island Lodge!

On 8th February 1992, the Lodge held a Banner Dedication, again officiated by the same Provincialteam, this time at the Witney Masonic Centre. W.Bro. David Hutton designed the banner. Since then, there have been 125 regular meetings, 2 extraordinary meetings and 1 emergencymeeting. During the last 25 years, the Lodge has initiated a total of 40 brethren, passing 38 and raising 37 and also welcomed 13 joining members.

The Witta's Island Lodge celebrated its Silver Jubilee / 25th anniversary on 21st May 2015. With8 subscribing Founders and an active membership, we look forward to the next 25 years!

Explanation of the Witta's Island Lodge Banner

by W.Bro. D.H. Hutton PPrSGD (Founder & Designer)

"Every Lodge has, or ought to have, a Lodge Banner"

banner

With the foregoing axiom in mind, the very first committee meeting of the founding membersof Witta's Island Lodge was held on 31st May 1989 and agreed that arrangements ought to be set in place to acquirea banner for the lodge. The primary requirement was to obtain and approve a banner design and Bro. David Huttonagreed to prepare a draft for presentation at a subsequent meeting.

At the next meeting, held on 27th June 1989, Bro Hutton duly presented his preliminary designand provided a rationale or overview of the chosen imagery and symbolism in respect of Witta's Island Lodge asfollows:-

The name of 'Witta's Island Lodge No 9359' is boldly stated and proclaimed quite clearly atthe head of the banner.

As the Lodge was taking its title from an ancient name of the market town Witta's Island, thecentral or focal point of the banner simply depicts an area of land surrounded by water. The encircling water coursesas shown represent the rivers and streams that surround Witney even to this day and it is commonly held that toaccess the centre of the town from the immediate countryside it is necessary to cross a bridge.

However, the most predominant feature of the design is the glaring sun situated at the very topof the banner. This is representative of the fact that, by virtue of the time of year that Witta's Island Lodgeholds its meetings, viz from April through to late August, we are first and foremost a 'Summer Lodge'. The sunis also especially depicted high in the heavens due to our 'peculiar' assertation that masonically 'the sun is alwaysat its meridian with respect to freemasonry'.

It is our hope and expectation that the sun's beneficent rays do not shine down alone on Witta'sIsland but by the symbolic addition of our three great, though emblematical lights in freemasonry, namely the VSL,the Compasses and the Square, the whole community will be enlightened and uplifted and will thereby, in somemeasure, be the beneficiaries of freemasonry in general and by our Lodge in particular.

The foregoing imagery is effectively framed by two 'great pillars' for two especial reasons.Firstly, Witney was always regarded as the 'Gateway to Oxfordshire' for trade and merchandise, mainly wool, for thevarious mills from the outlying countryside. Hence the Gateway or 'Porchway or Entrance'. Secondly, in recognitionof the Gateway Lodge No 8501 being our sponsoring Lodge, it was felt that the two pillars on their banner, whichdepicts the aforesaid Gateway, ought to be deferentially replicated on our banner.

Moving further down towards the base of the banner, the rustic and verdant countryside outsideof the town of Witta's Island, is masonically represented by the foliage of Acacia 'arising from the ground'.

At the very bottom or foundation the banner proclaims and declares that Witta's Lodge was 'Founded 1990'.